Wildcard SSL and SAN – what is the difference between the two SSL certificates?

If you require an SSL-certificate, which is suitable for multiple domains, then you have two options: wildcard certificate or a SAN-certificate. To understand what kind of certificate better fits your needs, you would need to understand how they  are differ among themselves. We would like to point out: both options are ideal for the protection of several sites. However, let’s find out which one will better meet your needs.

What is a Wildcard Certificate?

Wildcard SSL-Certificate provides protection for multiple subdomains using a single certificate. You can add subdomains, without re-issuing the SSL-certificate, which is the easiest way to install it. If you are working with a large amount of sub-domains and constantly adding new subdomains, in this case, this option will suit you perfectly. You will receive protection that provides HTTPS, without spending a tons of money on an additional SSL-certificate each time.

What is a SAN SSL certificate?

SAN SSL-certificate is quite similar to a wildcard, because it is also a separate certificate for multiple domains. However, it does have some important differences that you must consider and understand. For example, you can use numerous top-level domains and subdomains with SAN SSL. However, when you add domains, you will need to add them in the general list, which is synchronized for SSL-certificate. It means, you will have to re-deploy SAN SSL certificate as soon as you add a new server to the existing list.

Which factors affect the choice of an appropriate type of SSL-certificate?

Now when we are aware about the differences in between two types of certificate, we can see what factors should be taken into consideration when choosing the right type of certificate.

Type of server installation

If you rarely deploy new services and websites which require security via SSL, then you better choice would be SAN certificate. You can protect all your domains with a single SSL certificate. This is a good way of protection, if you do it once and do not change the network configuration.

On the other hand, as stated above, if you are constantly deploying new sites on subdomains, then you would need the Wildcard SSL Certificate. It will be more sensible solution. You can’t use a different top-level domains, but when you adding subdomains, you do not have to change or reconfigure anything. The SSL protocol will be included automatically.

Price and budget

Another point of consideration which needs to be considered when selecting the appropriate type of certificate – price level of the different certificates, as well as your budget. You should not only look at the price, since it would be a mistake. You would have to understand what type of certificate you require. Wildcard and SAN SSL are more expensive, but they allow you to cover multiple servers.

You wouldn’t need to buy separate certificates for each server you are working with. This will save money in the long run. Surely, you can look at the prices offered by different CAs, but it is important to remember that good service and reliability worth the money.

Which type of SSL certificate fits you?

This question could be answered only by yourself, taking in consideration the information provided above. You can always contact us if you want to get a more detailed answer. In general, if you want to add an unlimited number of subdomains, being assured that you will get all-in-one product, then it is better to pay attention to the Wildcard SSL. If you do not plan to add subdomains frequently, or if you need to use multiple domains, you should consider a SAN certificate.

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This site is dedicated to SSL-certificates. You will learn what is an SSL certificate, how to issue and reissue it. FAQ SSL will be useful for both novices and pros. SSL Knowledgebase contains sections on validation, trust logo, vulnerabilities, SSL-certificates differences by type (Wildcard, EV, DV, etc.), as well as many other things.